The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live, possibly forever.
It will be years, probably decades, before people feel comfortable crowded together at clubs, gigs or sporting events.
The unprecedented Covid-19 crisis’s seen us quickly adopt a new way of living that we hope will keep us and our loved ones safe. But wherever there’s a crisis, someone will find an opportunity.
And according to some conspiracy theorists, the pandemic is already being exploited by governments to seize more control over society, rolling back hard-won freedoms in theme of virus containment.
Albert Fox Cahn, the executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project thinks that governments won’t give up these new powers easily.
He said: “We have absolutely no reason to believe that the government agencies that are eager to expand their power in response to Covid-19 will be willing to see those authorities lapse once the virus is eradicated.”
Not just governments, but corporations too are finding ways to gain some benefit from the crisis. Amazon has already changed the way we shop, and made it much harder for traditional retail stores to turn a profit.
Now, most of those traditional retail stores have been forced to close, while Amazon says it is hiring 100,000 extra full and part-time staff to handle the current surge in demand, bringing their total workforce to 900,000.
Dave Clark, Amazon’s head of worldwide operations, says that these are temporary positions and he expects the 100,000 workers to return to their former employers once the crisis is over: “We want those people to know we welcome them on our teams until things return to normal and their past employer is able to bring them back,” he told the Financial Times.
But that’s assuming that the workers’ former employers are still able to trade after the crisis.
Many companies will have been forced to close permanently.
Conspiracy theory website Vigilant Citizen predicts a major shift in the way we do business with mega-corporations completely replacing the business we know today: “If the lockdown persists, we can expect a major shift in the global economy,” says an editorial on the site, warning: “Small and medium businesses will struggle and die while gigantic entities will thrive as they turn into monolithic “distribution centres” for essential goods.”
The site also lists other ways that governments’ responses to the virus have pushed us closer to the Orwellian society conspiracy theorists have been warning us about for years; people being tracked using mobile phones in South Korea, Israel and Singapore, a massive CCTV rollout in China, and people breaking the lockdown rules being beaten with batons in India.
The site stops short of accusing the world’s governments of deliberately engineering the virus in order to create the opportunities, but it points out that powers seized by governments in times of war are rarely given up when peace returns.